“POMA is a multicultural company.”
Jean Souchal is from Saint-Martin de Belleville in the Vanoise massif and Savoie department. As a result, he likes to reminds us that the Isère river originates in Savoie. With an engineering degree and a business degree from EMLyon, he joined POMA in 1981 as a technical drafter. Since 2010, he has been Chairman of the Board of Directors. With its headquarters in Voreppe, near Grenoble-Isère, POMA is the world leader of cable transportation. The group has 950 employees, a third of whom work abroad. Three quarters of the group’s turnover is derived from international contracts. As an Alps Is(h)ere Ambassador, Jean Souchal promotes the excellence of Grenoble-Isère industry throughout 90 countries, including China, where the group recently secured a €200 million contract.
How are POMA’s local and international activities interconnected?
POMA is a multicultural company. We are present in 90 countries and 75% of our turnover comes from international contracts. Our strategy is to be Chinese in China, Colombien in Colombia, Algerian in Algeria, etc. A third of our employees work aboard and the majority are not French citizens. We have 140 people in the U.S., more than 100 in China and more than 40 in Colombia. However, the majority of our equipment is produced in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps region and in particular in the Isère and Savoie departments.
What enabled the company to secure a major contract in China?
POMA has a long history in China. I was in fact the second employee to visit China and that was more than 30 years ago. In 1989, we created Poma Beijing. We started out by providing equipment for touristic sites. Today, we are taking advantage of the development of Chinese ski resorts as the country will be hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. We have agreements with more than ten major ski resorts such as Yabuli in the north east. We recently signed a €200 million contract to build 35 ski lifts for the Thaiwoo ski resort over the next five years.
Is POMA’s experience in the Alps an advantage in Asia?
French expertise in montagne activities is widely recognized in China. Our partners were quick to note that France is the only country to have organized three Winter Olympic Games (Chamonix in 1924, Grenoble in 1968 and Albertville in 1992). We also benefit from the renown of the French Ski School, which is the world’s biggest ski school, and major companies such as Rossignol and the Compagnie des Alpes. No matter where you go in the world, from Chili to Kazakhstan, Grenoble-Isère is seen as a center of excellence for all economic sectors tied to mountain activities. That is a clear advantage for us.
What is your vision of the Alps Is(h)ere Ambassador initiative launched by the Grenoble-Isère department?
I believe this is a very interesting initiative as it promotes our region’s mountain activities and their economic development. The mountains enabled the development of winter sports and tourism. As a result, POMA’s history is unequivocally tied to this past. It is an excellent idea to promote the fact that the Isère department is located in the Alps and that Grenoble is the capital of the Alps. And I believe it is important to reaffirm the region’s attractive offer and quality of life. This will enable us to continue attracting talent that is key to the development of our companies.
Founded in 1936
Headquarters in Voreppe (near Grenoble-Isère)
Turnover: €286 million
950 employees (650 in France)
About Alps Is(h)ere Ambassadors: a community to promote Grenoble-Isère
As international competition increases between various regions, the AEPI brings together a community of Alpes Is(h)ere Ambassadors to encourage economic development in the Isère department. Ambassadors include entrepreneurs, engineers, researchers, students, artists and athletes. By sharing their engagement in the Grenoble-Isère region, each ambassador promotes the region’s advantages throughout their professional network. The AEPI is here to support you in promoting the advantages and values of the Isère department, both in France and abroad.
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